UBC shifts to Here2Talk following student assistance program termination

In early November, UBC terminated the Student Assistance Program (SAP), redirecting students to the Here2Talk mental health counselling service instead.

The SAP was a free, 24/7 student wellness and mental health counselling service that guided students through maintaining mental, emotional and physical health. The service was confidential and available through phone, video or face-to-face talks, with multiple languages available.

An announcement on the archived SAP page now directs students to Here2Talk due to the “service change.”

Launched in 2020, Here2Talk offers students a free, confidential, single-session service available to all students registered in post-secondary institutions across the province. The service is available 24/7 via app, phone or web.

UBC’s Chief Student Health Officer Noorjean Hassam said in an interview with The Ubyssey that the reason behind the change is that UBC does not want to provide duplicating service, as Here2Talk and the SAP were essentially providing the same resources.

Hassam said that the previous groups UBC contracted to handle SAP services kept "changing hands quite often." The reason why UBC is redirecting all students to Here2Talk instead of renewing the contract is because Here2Talk is "a very well-supported, government-funded program and it's common across all post-secondaries."

"We felt it offered really high-quality services, and even probably as good as or better than the services that we were offering," said Hassam.

According to Hassam, the decision, made in late October, involved student health counselling service leaders from UBC Vancouver and UBC Okanagan, as well as the VP Presidents and VP Students Office. She also said they informed AMS, GSS and "other groups that … would be affected" before making the decision.

Hassam also said she hoped that the change would not affect students very much, and she hopes that "students will find it better." The funding used for SAP will be put into developing "specialized services available to students who are equity deserving."

Hassam said that the university does not want to waste the funding and create duplicating services, but instead to concentrate the resources and the effort for helping more students in need.

"Giving extra support or more targeted and supportive support to groups is really important to us."